Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases

Molecular Mechanisms of Diabetes

Under the direction of Jennifer Estall

Research Unit

The research unit focuses on understanding the pathogenesis of diabetes at the molecular level. This metabolic disease afflicts millions of people worldwide, yet we still do not know the underlying cause. Diabetes affects many organ systems, including pancreas, liver, muscle, fat, bone, and brain, each playing a distinct role in disease etiology.

Genetics and environmental factors such as poor eating habits, low physical activity, and stress combine to create the ideal setting for diabetes to develop and cause permanent damage (vascular and heart disease). Insulin-producing cells of the pancreas become exhausted and die; the liver produces excess sugar; and, fat is stored in inappropriate locations (i.e. muscle, liver). We also know that metabolic abnormalities in one tissue often impact the health of another (organ cross-talk), adding layers of complexity.

In Jennifer Estall's laboratory, members of the team strive to understand the molecular events in each tissue that trigger disease and identify new ways to prevent, diagnosis, or reverse the metabolic abnormalities associated with insulin resistance and beta-cell dysfunction / death.

Jennifer Estall

Research Unit Director

  • Director, Molecular Mechanisms of Diabetes Research Unit
  • Associate IRCM Research Professor
  • Associate Research Professor, Department of Medicine (accreditation in molecular biology), Université de Montréal
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Medicine (Division of Experimental Medicine) and Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, McGill University
  • Research Scholar from the Leaders Opportunity Fund, Canada Foundation for Innovation 

Other affiliations

  • Member, Montreal Diabetes Research Centre
  • Member, Réseau de recherche en santé cardiométabolique, diabète et obésité
  • Member, American Diabetes Association
  • Member, Canadian Association for the Study of Liver

Awards and honours

  • H.L. Holmes Award, National Research Council Canada
  • New Investigator Award, Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Research Scholar - Junior 2, Fonds de recherche de Québec - Santé

Degrees and relevant experience

  • B.Sc. Department of Pharmacology, University of Toronto (2000)
  • PhD in molecular biology, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, University of Toronto (2005)
  • Postdoctoral fellowship, Departments of Cell and Cancer biology, Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts, USA
Jennifer Estall
Research Unit Director
Cindy Baldwin
Research Assistant
Emilie Courty
Postdoctoral fellow
Maria Galipeau
Master's Student
Aysim Gunes
Postdoctoral fellow
Nathalie Jouvet
Research Associate
Mélissa Léveillé
PhD student
Philipa Lévesque-Damphousse
M.Sc. student
Clemence Schmitt
PhD Student
Hannah Zhang
M.Sc. student
Vijaya Madhoo
Administrative Assistant
May Faraj
Research Unit Director


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Contact information

Montreal Clinical Research Institute (IRCM)
110, des Pins Avenue West
Montréal, Québec  H2W 1R7

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Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases